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J. Lewis Hall Jr.

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J. Lewis Hall, Jr. Retired Circuit Judge J. Lewis Hall, Jr., died at home in Altamonte Springs, Florida, on September 15, 2010. He was born on April 2, 1931, attended Leon High School, the University of Florida for undergraduate and law school, and served in the United States Army before returning to Tallahassee to practice law. He is survived by his son, William Douglas Hall (Lori Elliott); a daughter, Sara Page Hall; one grandchild, Elizabeth Marion Chalakani; and his brother, Thomas M. Hall, as well as his devoted companion, Vivian Feist Garfein.
He was preceded in death by a son, Bruce Rivers Hall, and by his parents, J. Lewis Hall, Sr., and Martha Buford Hall. A memorial service will be held on September 20, 2010, at 4:30 p.m. EDT at Faith Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Bruce Rivers Hall Scholarship Fund, Stubbs' Educational Foundation, 1260 Timberlane Road, Tallahassee, FL 32312, or to Hospice of the Comforter, 595 Montgomery Road, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714.
Judge Hall embodied the best of the legal profession and the judicial system. He received the highest rating as a lawyer, and when he was elected as a circuit judge in 1980, his campaign slogan was simply, "Ask anyone who knows him." He served two terms as Chief Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit. He was chairman of the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges and he served on many committees of the Supreme Court of Florida to enhance the quality of justice in our state.
He was a teacher and lecturer to lawyers and judges at judicial conferences, law schools, seminars and bar association meetings. He retired on December 31, 1998, because he reached the maximum age the Florida Constitution allows an active judge to remain in office. Judge Hall jokingly said he had reached the age of "constitutional senility." He continued to serve for ten years after that date as a retired judge.
He was the first recipient of the Trial Judge of the Year award from the Tallahassee chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and was a charter member, Master of the Bench, and president of the William Stafford American Inn of Court. His grandfather was Rivers Buford, Sr., a justice of the Florida Supreme Court.
His father, Lewis Hall, Sr., was a former president of the Florida Bar, who in 1946 was the first of three generations of the Hall family to serve as president of the Tallahassee Bar Association. Judge Hall (1967) and his son Doug (1998) continued the tradition. He attended Leon High School in Tallahassee and the University of Florida, where he was a member of Florida Blue Key and was appointed the Cadet Colonel of the Army ROTC program, the highest honor for a student ROTC member.
After graduating from Florida, he served from September 1953 until September of 1955 as a First Lieutenant with the U.S. Army First Infantry Division. Judge Hall was a legendary athlete who acquired the nickname "Papa" as a schoolboy. In 1948 he became the first Leon High School football player to be named as a High School All-American, as well as the first to be named the Florida High School Player of the Year.
He was selected to the All-State and All-Southern Teams. Twenty-five years later he served on a committee appointed by the Leon County School Board that eventually named Gene Cox as the head coach of Leon High. He was selected in the inaugural class of the Leon High School Football Hall of Fame in 1977, and has been named to the Leon High School Teams of the Century.
He is the only Leon High graduate ever invited to participate on the college all-star team that played against the National Football League champions but he declined the offer to protect his amateur status. While attending UF, he garnered even greater acclaim for his athletic endeavors. A three-year letterman on the football team, he led the Southeastern Conference in punt returns.
He once made a 109 yard touchdown run following a Citadel field goal attempt --a run that was cut to 75 yards by an unnecessary clipping penalty -- in what has been called one of the greatest plays in Gator football history. His team went to Florida's first post-season bowl game, the Gator Bowl, where he led his team to a victory over Tulsa and was named Most Valuable Player of the game.
Florida completed the season with a record of 8-2 and finished number 15 in the country, the first time the Gators had finished in the top 20. He was later named to the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame. He is a member of the University of Florida Hall of Fame and the UF Letterman's Association Hall of Fame. Football may not have been his best sport.
The NCAA official records list him as the National High Jump Champion in 1951 and 1953. He also won AAU national championships as a high jumper. His best college high jumps surpassed the height of the gold medal jump at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. The Jacksonville Times Union reported that he once held the indoor high jump record of 6 feet, 11 inches.
Judge Hall received national acclaim for his athletic exploits, but the highest praise may have come from a 1952 New York Times article written by Arthur Daley, the first sportswriter to receive a Pulitzer Prize: "This reporter has been following track for a quarter of a century or so and he can't remember any athlete who came so far and so fast as this 20-year old boy from Florida.
A complete unknown, he rocketed from nowhere to achieve the rare Grand Slam of NCAA and AAU championships at tremendous heights in his first year of varsity competition. And his potentialities haven't yet been tapped." Judge Hall's colleagues, friends and family will attest that his professional and athletic accomplishments pale in comparison to his personal attributes: integrity, congeniality, sincerity, dedication, good humor and resourcefulness.
We shall miss him.
Published in Tallahassee Democrat on Sept. 17, 2010